2017 PPI Score
School Choice Score: 72%
This school voucher program is Washington D.C.’s only school choice program. It was enacted in 2004, and it continues to serve students from low-income households.
Charter Schools Score: 95%
DC has the strongest charter sector in the country. The DC Public Charter School Board (DCPCSB) authorizes charter schools., The congressional act authorizing the Board also granted it independence from all city and “state” activities. The Board’s autonomy is currently threatened: the City Council has attempted to interfere with charter schools (the schools are fighting back with a lawsuit) and some Board personnel have negotiated with the relatively new State Education Agency, which did not exist when the congress authorized the Board.
Despite these threats, DC’s the law is stronger than all others for two reasons: The District provides the strongest funding base in the country for charters (though funding is still not equal to district schools) and the Board maintains a great deal of independence.
- Fast Facts as of May 2017
- Law Passed in 1996
- 118 charter schools
- Estimated Charter Enrollment: 42,400 (9 percent increase from 2015-16)
- Virtual Charter Schools are allowed (although limited in practice)
- Charter schools can contract with for all forms of education service providers
- DC charter schools are permitted to offer pre-k
- DC Scores highly on the “authorizing” section of the National Charter Law Rankings because the law enables DCPCSB to authorize schools without the constraints and limitations that traditional school districts tend to put in place.. DCPCSB is not responsible to the Board of Education.
- The law caps charter growth at 10 schools per year, but allows the cap to carry over from one year to the next, so that charter growth has never been limited. In recent years the growth of the sector has slowed because of challenges with DCPCSB board members, but overall growth in the sector remains strong. There was a 9 percent increase in the number of students attending DC Charter Schools in 2016.
- The District receives a high innovation score because it permits a wide variety of charter schools, including schools with diverse instructional approaches, to operate with great autonomy. This includes schools that blend traditional instruction with virtual learning, and a single-sex school for girls.
DC’s charters enjoy more equitable charter school funding than most states. DC also has the most robust per-pupil facilities funding program in the country. This is reflected in the District’s strong “funding equity” score.
 A new report by the university of Arkansas showed that charters in DC have a 39 percent disparity in per pupil revenue compared with traditional public schools: Patrick J. Wolf, Larry D. Maloney, Jay F. May, & Corey A. DeAngelis (2017) “Charter School Funding: Inequity in the City.” School Choice Demonstration Project, Department of Education Reform, University of Arkansas.
Teacher Quality Score: 68%
Delivering Well Prepared Teachers C-
Expanding the Pool of Teachers C
Identifying Effective Teachers C-
Retaining Effective Teachers D-
Exiting Ineffective Teachers D